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Zane Ratcliff, left, and Ryan St John (ACU)

Since their first day studying teaching at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, Zane Ratcliff and Ryan St John have become inseparable. Source: ACU.

From playing on the same team at Indigenous Nationals, to supporting each other at the Indigenous Higher Education Unit at ACU Banyo Campus, Zane and Ryan consider each other family.

“We’ve developed a bond in the past couple of years which goes much deeper culturally than just mates,” Ryan said.

“Zane is a big role model to me and a big brother, so we call each other Indigenous cousins.”

Now the pair are packing their bags for Rome, preparing for their first overseas trip next month after winning ACU’s scholarship for Indigenous students.

Named to honour the memory of an Aboriginal boy who in the 1850s travelled from New Norcia Western Australia (Nyoongar Country) to Rome to study in a Benedictine monastery, the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship offers an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student to study at ACU Rome Campus.

ACU Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) Kelly Humphrey said Zane and Ryan were inspiring young men who would make ACU’s First Nations community proud.

Zane, 23, is a Wakka Wakka man with connections to Torres Strait Island, and grew up on country in Gayndah, while Ryan, 21, is a Gamilaroi man who grew up off country in Caboolture, on Brisbane’s north.

Zane is completing a Bachelor of Education (Primary and Secondary) after being inspired by his teachers in Gayndah. 

Ryan is in his final year of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), on a scholarship from Brisbane Catholic Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

As Conaci Scholars, Ryan and Zane will represent First Nations people during NAIDOC Week in Rome, hosted by Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro.


Uni mates to head to Rome next month as Conaci Scholars (ACU)